Archive for January, 2011
From E. J. Dionne’s latest column, just posted to our home page:
It’s remembered as a day chilled by “a Siberian wind knifing down Pennsylvania Avenue” and illuminated by “the dazzling combination of bright sunshine and deep snow.”
On January 20, 1961, John F. Kennedy began his presidency with a speech at once soaring and solemn. Fifty years on, we have not heard an inaugural address like it. Tethered to its time and place, it still challenges with its ambition to harness realism to idealism, patriotism to service, national interest to universal aspiration.
Could a president give this kind of speech today?
Michael Lind thinks we need to reconfigure our political parties around our attitude toward progress.
It strikes me that this new two-party system would also leave many Catholics without a home –for obvious reasons, which we DON’T need to discuss here. In other words, THIS IS NOT A POST ON ABORTION.
But the underlying question, which I DO want to discuss here, is what is the Catholic idea on progress? It strikes me that it is complicated. Any ideas?
Anthony Shadid, one of the NYTimes very good reporters, long covering the Middle East (and an Arab speaker, I believe), has this sobering and mind-bending article on the situation in Lebanon (Israel’s near neighbor). As usual, things are falling apart there, but Shadid takes a look at who is trying to patch things up. Instead of the United States and Saudi Arabia, it looks like Turkey is stepping forward in a reconciling role. Worth a read: Here
“In a series of stalemates — from the Arab-Israeli conflict to Lebanon — Turkey has proved the most dynamic, projecting an increasingly assertive and independent foreign policy in an Arab world bereft of any country that matches its stature. Its success is a subtle critique of America’s longstanding policy in the Middle East of trying to isolate and ostracize its enemies. From Hezbollah here to the followers of a populist, anti-American cleric in Iraq, Turkey has managed to forge dialogue with America’s enemies and allies alike.”
A brief historical note: Turkey, previously the home of the Ottoman Empire, is not an Arab country. Until after WWI when Britain and France took over, the Ottomans governed this whole region. Interesting if Turkey has a repris of sorts in trying to keep Syria, Lebanon, and Lebanon’s many factions on the same page.
That seems to be the main debate about a letter that has surfaced in Ireland from 1997 that shows the Vatican’s emissary at the time telling the Irish bishops that their new (at the time) policy to combat the sexual abuse of children by clergy was not acceptable to the Vatican. The Irish hierarchy’s plan had included mandatory reporting of suspected crimes to authorities.
John Allen’s analysis tends to rebut the idea of the letter as a “smoking gun” in a Vatican cover-up and instead sees aspects of the letter as indicating the Vatican was taking “a fairly tough line on abuse.”
My sense was that the Vatican’s efforts today to tamp down the controversy by saying that the letter has been “deeply misunderstood” (Vatican lawyer Jeffrey Lena) or that “It refers to a situation that we’ve now moved beyond” (Vatican spokesman Father Lombardi) are insufficient at best.
Then again, Lombardi’s insistence that the existence of the letter was common knowledge in Ireland, while hardly an excuse, is true — but that doesn’t seem to exculpate the Vatican. Rather, the letter only seems to affirm that real cause of the scandal is what is already widely viewed as an endemic culture of secrecy in much of the hierarchy. It wasn’t necessarily some kind of carefully orchestrated, Dan Brown-style conspiracy that needs a “smoking gun.” The scandal is what it is, and always has been.
A plain reading of the letter, especially in the context of what was happening then, seems only to argue more explicitly for the culture-of-secrecy explanation. The Vatican ambassador to Ireland wrote that the bishops new policy was unacceptable to the Congregation for Clergy in Rome, which was then headed by Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, who was quite open about his insistence that bishops not report their priests to civil authorities.
Jeff Lena says that “the letter nowhere instructed Irish bishops to disregard civil law reporting requirements.” But there were no civil law reporting requirements at the time — the bishops were actually ahead of civil society — and Lena’s statement seems hard to square with the letter’s statement that mandatory reporting “gives rise to serious reservations of both a moral and canonical nature.”
The 1997 Vatican letter seems to have two significant complicating factors now for the Vatican. One is that it casts a further shadow over John Paul’s administration even as Rome prepares for his beatification in May.
Also, the letter seems to directly contradict Benedict’s own letter to Irish Catholics last year when the new revelations were roiling Ireland, and Rome.
In that letter to Irish Catholics the pope expressed his sorrow at the abuse but also blamed the abuse on “fast-paced social change” and a lack of religious devotion by ordinary Irish Catholics, who until recent years have been the most devout Catholics in the world.
Benedict’s letter also chided the bishops for the “often inadequate response” of Ireland’s hierarchy to the abuse and pointed to “a tendency in [Irish] society to favor the clergy and other authority figures.”
But in this case it seems the Vatican was guilty of an inadequate response and was standing in the way of the local bishops who were trying to deal with the crisis.
In the end, the Irish bishops backed down. If the message in this 1997 letter was something different than what it appears, then the Irish hierarchy apparently misread it back then, too.
The London Tablet had an article a week or two back about Oxford philosopher Toby Ord, founder of Giving What We Can whose members pledge that “from today until the day I retire, I shall give at least 10 per cent of what I earn to fight poverty in developing countries.” Its website gives a good deal of information about the organization, including their assessment of the best charities to which to contribute and information about various projects to reduce illness and poverty.
From the New York Times obituary:
R. Sargent Shriver, the Kennedy in-law who became the founding director of the Peace Corps, the architect of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s war on poverty, the United States ambassador to France and the Democratic candidate for vice president in 1972, died on Tuesday. He was 95.
Briefly, here’s an excerpt about Shriver from Rodger Van Allen’s The Commonweal and American Catholicism:
R. Sargent Shriver was the son of parents who were among Michael Williams’s group of Calvert Associates [who founded Commonweal]. Shriver’s father was a convert to Catholicism who became an avid reader in the faith, and hosted prominent European Catholics like Hilaire Belloc and Pail Claudel. On his mother’s side, he was a descendant of a three-hundred-year-old Maryland Catholic family that had come over with the first Lord Baltimore to settle Maryland. His godfather was James Cardinal Gibbons, a close friend of his maternal grandfather.
Click here to read David O’Brien’s review of Sarge: The Life and Times of Sargent Shriver.
Requiescet in pace.
Matt Zoller Seitz discusses MTV’s latest:
Like the original, it revolves around a group of improbably glamorous, self-assured teens who have tons of casual sex and do massive amounts of drugs (mainly pot and pills) under the noses of clueless and/or ineffectual parents and teachers. Their behavior has no serious repercussions – at least not the sort you’d see illustrated in one of those old social hygiene movies that were an integral part of high school back during my heyday, the 1980s, a quaint time when everybody drank bathtub gin and drove jalopies with rumble seats. On “Skins,” consequences are mainly melodramatic rather than medical or social.
He then goes on to ask and answer the following question:
Is “Skins” bad for kids? Well, if shows directly influence behavior, over and above whatever morals that parents teach their kids – a big “if” — then yeah, maybe, I guess so. But on the other hand, I have yet to witness a scenario in either series that I didn’t personally fantasize about in some form or another when I was the same age as the teens that comprise this program’s target demographic. When I was in eighth grade (prime “Skins” age, I’m guessing) I snuck into explicitly violent and/or sexual R-rated films almost every weekend, furtively tried out adult substances, and spent hours futzing with the aerial on top of my parents’ TV set after they went to sleep hoping to catch a fleeting glimpse of fornication on a scrambled pay-per-view broadcast channel. If I were that age again in 2011, I’d probably watch “Skins” religiously for a couple of seasons, then get bored and move on to something else. The series would have been absorbing, silly, sexy and trashy no matter what critics said about it. The fact that it’s officially considered Bad for Kids makes it awesome.
Maybe having kids has turned me into a fuddy duddy. But it seems a little strained to call the idea that a show like this might influence kids’ behavior “a big ‘if’.” I did and thought about most of the things Zoller Seitz describes himself as doing and thinking about as well. But the key difference is that they were all pretty labor-intensive and mostly unsuccessful. Yes, you could stumble across a discarded (or unguarded) adult magazine in my childhood, or you could work really hard to decipher some scrambled Spice channel static. But the sheer difficulty of getting these limited results was a message in itself. In contrast, extremely sexually provocative content is now at the fingertips of any kid with an unmonitored internet connection. And the ubiquity of this content sends a very different message. I don’t think anyone knows where this will end up, but to pretend that it doesn’t represent a significant change in our culture and that it won’t have an effect on children’s behavior seems obtuse.
Sure, the onus must be on parents to keep their kids from watching age-inappropriate content. But the sheer amount of parental surveillance required to pull that off has increased dramatically. There’s no good solution to this, as far as I can see. Censorship is a nonstarter. And Internet filters just don’t work, unless they’ve gotten a lot better. In the early days of the Internet, my parents installed Net Nanny software on their home computer for the “protection” of my younger brothers. It didn’t seem to work too well, and it became something of a running joke in our family. Until they bought a new computer, the software would pop up at the strangest moments, like when my brothers were working on term papers and happened to type in a flagged word into their reports. My youngest brother quipped that the net nanny had become a little senile.
Today is (was?) the 50th anniversary of Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Presidential farewell address, in which he coined the famous phrase “military-industrial complex” in warning of the “economic, political, even spiritual” consequences of the “total influence” of America’s rapidly growing military establishment and arms industry. Frequent Commonweal contributor Andrew Bacevich remembers that speech in this month’s Atlantic, and borrows the phrase from which I’ve taken this post’s title. An excerpt:
Thanks to its allies and abettors, the military-industrial-legislative war complex remains stubbornly resistant to change—a fact President Barack Obama himself learned during his first year in office. While reviewing his administration’s policy in Afghanistan, the president repeatedly asked for a range of policy alternatives. He wanted choices. According to Bob Woodward of TheWashington Post, however, the Pentagon offered Obama a single path—the so-called McChrystal “surge” of additional troops. As recounted in Woodward’s book Obama’s Wars, the president complained: “So what’s my option? You’ve given me only one option.” The military’s own preferred option was all he was going to get. (Just months before, Woodward himself had helpfully promoted that very option, courtesy of a well-timed leak.)
No doubt Dwight Eisenhower would sympathize with President Obama, having himself struggled to exercise the prerogatives ostensibly reserved to the chief executive. Yet Ike would hardly be surprised. He would reserve his surprise—and his disappointment—for the American people. A half century after he summoned us to shoulder the responsibilities of citizenship, we still refuse to do so. In Washington, military metaphysics remains sacrosanct. No wonder we continue to get our pockets picked.
The famous clip from Ike’s speech is embedded below the fold.
In light of the discussion of David Brooks’s account of the state of theology and philosophy, I thought, given the number of theologians and philosophers who participate in this blog, it would be interesting to discuss Reinhard Hutter’s piece on the subject. Trained as a Lutheran theologian in Germany, Hutter is now transforming himself into a Catholic theologian at Duke.(It’s also a nice opportunity for ecumenical discussion between First Things and Commonweal).
In a nutshell, Hutter surveys the landscape of his new theological home, and doesn’t like what he sees.
On the whole, Hutter’s article seems to me make arguments that are roughly similar to arguments I heard (and made) twenty years ago in grad school at Yale. Twenty years is a long time. I started thinking lately about what I still think is true in that approach, and what I would tell my younger self differently, in light of what I’ve learned since. Read the rest of this entry »
Before you settle in for a long day of giant men smashing each other while chasing an oblong ball, be sure to read Barry Gault’s “Lay That Pistol Down: It Wasn’t Our Mental-health Laws that Enabled Loughner. It Was Our Gun Laws.” Gault takes issue with William Galston’s argument for stricter mental-health laws.
For over forty years as a practitioner and as chief of psychiatry at a large community hospital, I’ve been acquiring very credible evidence of people’s mental disturbance pretty much every day. Triage clinicians are called to the emergency department round the clock to evaluate psychotic cases, and the large group practice I belong to sees one hundred new patients every month. But so many patients certainly would not seek us out if we ran tattling to the police every time an irrational person said something menacing.
When we do sense imminent violence, however, the law poses no problems. I don’t know about Arizona, but in Massachusetts virtually any psychologist or psychiatrist seeking to restrain a dangerous person just completes a simple form known colloquially as a “pink paper,” and faxes it to the police. They transport the patient to a hospital where he can be held for at least three days on the admitting doctor’s say-so. During that time, if the patient continues to be adjudged dangerous, the hospital requests a commitment hearing. The patient is then detained for as long as it takes—never less than a week—and provided with a lawyer. A judge is brought to the hospital. At that point the patient’s right to due process is honored.
The system for dealing with violent patients is fraught with problems, but not because of the law. It is nonviolent patients and their families who suffer most from the libertarian tenor of the laws on involuntary treatment that concern William Galston.
Read the rest right here.
The New Yorker has a piece by David Brooks on “how the new sciences of human nature can help make sense of a life.” Some interesting stuff, although I think it was a mistake to present things in terms of a model young man. Here’s an introductory paragraph:
We are living in the middle of a revolution in consciousness. Over the past few decades, geneticists, neuroscientists, psychologists, sociologists, economists, and others have made great strides in understanding the inner working of the human mind. Far from being dryly materialistic, their work illuminates the rich underwater world where character is formed and wisdom grows. They are giving us a better grasp of emotions, intuitions, biases, longings, predispositions, character traits, and social bonding, precisely those things about which our culture has least to say. Brain science helps fill the hole left by the atrophy of theology and philosophy.
But I wonder if by the end he hasn’t returned to some of the key themes of theology and philosophy. The essay could raise the question, however, of the relationship between these sciences and the two traditional disciplines.
(I would also love to know whether Brooks has ever studied philosophy or theology.)
From the Jewish Daily Forward a solid background story on the state of U.S. relations with Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and the general mess in that part of the Middle East. The story focuses on the state of relations between George Mitchell who works for the State Department and Dennis Ross who seems to work for a couple of different entities, including the White House.
This afternoon, Paul Baumann appeared at my desk bearing a quizzical look–and a gift. “This has been sitting in my office for a week or so. I don’t know the name on the return address.” I didn’t recognize it either. Paul handed me a small box wrapped in red paper–tagged “Grant G.” There was one for Paul, one for me, and one for Patrick Jordan. They came in that box.
“Maybe we should make the intern open these,” I suggested. But he’d left for the day. Paul shook his box. I shook mine. No ticking. “I can’t not open this.” I tore open the paper. A yellow box was inside. A small envelope taped to the back. It bore a Latinate seal. Inside was what looked like a holy card for Pope Pius IX on which was printed several helpful facts: “Longest reigning pontiff since St. Peter” and “Defined the dogma of papal infallibility.” And at the bottom of the card: “Scratch ‘n’ sniff to experience Pio Nono’s personal, private cologne.”
On the front of the box: “The Pope’s Cologne.” Paul already had his open. “It smells awful.” And it does. A sticker on the back of the bottle explains: “The Pope’s Cologne is a classic Old World cologne made from the private formula of Pope Pius IX (1792-1878). We obtained this formula from descendants of the commander of his Papal Guard and faithful friend, General Charles Charette. We have followed this complex, exclusive formula meticulously, using the same essential oils that his perfumers used 150 years ago. We believe that we have succeeded in capturing the same fragrance that he and those around him enjoyed so long ago. This is a truly extraordinary cologne with surprising freshness and notes of violet and citrus. We are pleased that you will have the opportunity to enjoy this wonderful, historic fragrance. It is an honor for us to be able to produce it and make it available for your pleasure today.”
If my nostrils hadn’t been burned out by this stuff, I’d be able to tell you whether that description is accurate. I can only report that after inhaling this historic scent, I’ve never felt better about my suspicion of papal infallibility.
Over the past several years, and for a variety of reasons–some of them rather bizarre–Commonweal disappeared from newsstands. From time to time we’d hear from someone who wanted to know where he might purchase a copy of the magazine, and we’d have to say, sorry, not possible. Well, we don’t have to say that anymore. Interested in checking out the latest issue in physical form? Click here for the list of locations that carry Commonweal.
View Commonweal newsstand locations in a larger map
Our previous go round on cause and effect concerned Saturday’s tragic events in Tucson. What caused the death of six people and the wounding of fourteen?
Conservatives tended to see a deranged man as the cause while dismissing permissive gun laws, a volatile political season, along with heated rhetoric and ads during the 2010 campaign.
Liberals tended to see many causes for the event: the deranged man, Arizona’s permissive gun laws, violent words and symbols during the campaign, and a general breakdown of public discourse.
But let’s take another example. Let us imagine that in Tucson that day a woman had an abortion. Would conservatives tend to see many causes: the woman herself, the physician, the free-standing clinic, legal permissiveness, moral breakdown and ultimately Roe V. Wade? On the other hand, would liberals argue that it is a woman’s choice? She gets the abortion; it’s not the doctor, the clinic, not the legal regime, nor Roe v.Wade that causes that abortion.
Is our stand on cause and effect an outcome of our political views and the matter under discussion? Or are there guidelines that would produce a more coherent and less polemical assessment of cause and effect?
That is the word out from the Archdiocese, following up on a story that we discussed here and here last year, when the child of a lesbian couple was rejected from a parochial school. Via the Boston Globe, there is apparently no guarantee, however, that the child or another boy or girl in a similar situation would not be excluded:
[T]he policy, which was distributed to pastors, parishes, and school administrators by e-mail, said school parents “must accept and understand that the teachings of the Catholic Church are an essential and required part of the curriculum.’’
The new guidelines were developed by a panel of clergy and lay school administrators at the direction of Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley in response to a widely publicized incident last year in which St. Paul School in Hingham rescinded the admissions offer to the 8-year-old boy. The archdiocese helped place the boy in a different Catholic school.
The Hingham episode drew sharp criticism from prominent funders of Catholic education in Boston. The Catholic Schools Foundation, which gives millions in scholarships to low-income students, said it would not subsidize tuition at any school with a discriminatory admissions policy. Michael B. Reardon, executive director of the foundation, said yesterday his organization is pleased with the new policy’s “clear message of inclusiveness.’’
“From the perspective of the foundation, the key part of this is that it does not exclude any group of students, and it promotes what is essential to Catholic education, which is inclusivity,’’ he said.
Because the new policy said admissions decisions should be based in part on “the best interest of the child,’’ it remains uncertain whether the Hingham episode would have occurred had the new policy been in place. The specifics of that case remain unclear because the pastor involved, the Rev. James F. Rafferty, has declined interviews.
“The situation at St. Paul’s in Hingham may have taken a different route, but it might have come to the same conclusion,’’ said the Rev. Richard M. Erikson, vicar general of the Archdiocese of Boston. “Father Rafferty still today has the authority to make these decisions as the pastor. But the expectations of the diocese and the guidance the diocese gives in those judgment calls is clearer today than it was then.’’
He added that the archdiocese stands ready to “work hand-in-hand with the pastors and principals when there are judgment calls.’’
Rafferty was among those who participated in the drafting of the new policy. In a statement through the archdiocese yesterday, he said: “I welcome the fact that we now have a clear policy to guide us in the important work of Catholic education.’’
Remarks of President Barack Obama – As Prepared for Delivery
At a Memorial Service for the Victims of the Shooting in Tucson, Arizona
University of Arizona, McKale Memorial Center
January 12, 2011
To the families of those we’ve lost; to all who called them friends; to the students of this university, the public servants gathered tonight, and the people of Tucson and Arizona: I have come here tonight as an American who, like all Americans, kneels to pray with you today, and will stand by you tomorrow.
There is nothing I can say that will fill the sudden hole torn in your hearts. But know this: the hopes of a nation are here tonight. We mourn with you for the fallen. We join you in your grief. And we add our faith to yours that Representative Gabrielle Giffords and the other living victims of this tragedy pull through.
As Scripture tells us:
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
The editors of n+1 on the “Revolt of the Elites”:
[E]litism…usually refers to a much narrower phenomenon than just a fancy education. Recall that in 2004 the educational backgrounds of the cultural elitist John Kerry (St. Paul’s, Yale) and the cultural populist George Bush (Andover, Yale) were remarkably similar. Kerry’s elitism signified not that he had gone to such schools but that he appeared to have learned something there, including — l’inutile beauté — French. The ineducable Bush meanwhile suggested solidarity with the uneducated. A Harvard MBA merely proved that any interest he had in knowledge was purely mercenary. In a business society where mercenary motives constitute a kind of innocence — It’s my fiduciary responsibility to increase shareholder value is our I was just following orders — this much could be forgiven.
The mercenary or commercial consideration seems crucial. The elitism charge mostly exempts those who’ve been to expensive colleges so long as they’ve only learned how to make money there. This absolves not only CEOs but doctors and lawyers, provided they don’t engage in humanitarian work. (Are medicine and law considered “elitist” because rich people can afford better doctors and lawyers than the non-rich, as well as more easily become doctors and lawyers? No private tutoring required to guess the answer is no.) The term even spares Ivy-garlanded culture producers who earn a lot of money making movies and TV programs that people without a lot of money or education enjoy watching.
Who, then, is guilty of elitism, if not the elitely educated in general? The main culprits turn out to be people for whom a monied and therefore educated background lies behind the adoption of aesthetic, intellectual, or political values that demur from the money-making mandate that otherwise dominates society.
Read the whole thing here.
Sarah Palin channeling Queen Esther was one thing, but throwing the charge of “blood libel” at critics of her overheated rhetoric as regards the Tucson shooting seems to push her into right-wing talk radio territory:
The former Alaska governor, in a seven-minute video, mourned the tragic shootings that took the lives of six people and wounded 14 others, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.). But she said the rampage was the act of a “single evil man” who gunned down peaceful citizens. She said she moved from puzzlement to “concern” as reaction to the incident in some quarters blamed conservative rhetoric for provoking the violence caused by “this deranged, apparently apolitical criminal.”
Violent acts, such as the shootings in Arizona, “stand on their own. They begin and end with the criminals who commit them,” Palin said. In remarks reported by Politico and The Hill newspaper, Palin said the media “should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn.”
“Blood libel” is an extraordinarily loaded phrase because it recalls the false accusation by Christians against Jews that was used for centuries as an excuse for anti-Semitic persecution. The libel generally refers to the charge that Jews required human blood, and in particular the blood of Christian children, to bake matzoh bread.
I may be especially tuned in to Jewish sensibilities, having covered these topics for a long time. But this reaction of hers seems so un-presidential that it strikes me as a shark-jumping moment. Still, she has arguably had many of those. Then again, perhaps she is satisfied being queen of the populist right.
I think this is also interesting — not knowing the thinking behind her use of the phrase, if there was any thinking — how this may illustrate the way conservative Christians in particular love all things Jewish, but don’t necessarily understand them in their Jewish context. Or maybe don’t care. There is a fascinating trend toward Christian seders, for example, and Christians using the tallit, or Jewish prayer shawls. But such “philo-Semitism” can make Jews uncomfortable, if not as uneasy as anti-Semitism.
The Archdiocese of New York has announced that it plans to close 27 schools serving 3,652 students, or 7 percent of its student population. I realize that Catholic school closings have become commonplace, but I don’t recall another announcement of this magnitude (Perhaps you do?).
The many factors behind the demise of Catholic schools include changing demography, shrinkage of religious teaching orders, rising costs, high tuitions, the withdrawal of many people from the church, an inadequate connection with Latino Catholics and, in inner-city neighborhoods, the rise of publicly funded, foundation-backed charter schools.
If there is anything good that can be said about the closing of 27 Catholic schools, it is that the archdiocese seems to have a workable strategic plan for keeping the remaining ones. It addresses problems that have stood out for a long time in many dioceses, including the paucity of alumni donations and lack of marketing to spread the word about the accomplishments of Catholic schools. It would also sharpen the Catholic identity of the schools; research has found that the commitment to Catholic social teachings about the common good contributes to the academic success of the schools. Whether the plan works will depend heavily, in my opinion, on the human element. If it is implemented in a very top-down way focused on preserving authority, it won’t work. If the larger Catholic community can once again feel a connection to its schools. maybe the plan will accomplish its difficult goals.
Or is it something different? I wonder if it’s another thing as well. . . you can’t miss what you don’t have. The idea of someone coming into your house, and taking away the stuff you already have is a lot more vivid than the possibility of getting fabulous new stuff, which you’ve barely seen or thought about. I know that I can get along without a full-time domestic staff–I do so now. (Though I’d like St. Anthony on a retainer!) The idea of not having a car or a washing machine (I guess a washing machine is a mechanical domestic staff) is a lot harder; I don’t know how I’d arrange my life without them, and that causes stress to think about. (But I did get along without both, for many years, while in grad school–so I guess it’s that that was then).
So I guess I do think it’s loss aversion. And I think loss aversion works differently with respect to the stuff you have in your life, your familiar surroundings, YOUR life, than it does with purely monetary bets. It’s one thing to lose $100; it’s another thing to lose your favorite bottle of perfume or your expensive cigars, around which you’ve created a daily ritual. When you’re talking about income level, you’re talking about the material matrix around which people create a life and identity. You’re not just talking about currency.
That doesn’t say that people don’t get attached to things they shouldn’t, or that materialism isn’t a problem. But it is a problem because of the attachment–and de-attaching from anything is harder than not attaching in the first place.
If you’re not from Seattle, you just won’t understand, but this is an amazing tribute to an icon of my childhood (and, thanks to the magic of the Internet, my adulthood).
At 2:00 a.m. on Saturday—about eight hours before he allegedly killed six people and wounded 14, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), in Tucson—Jared Lee Loughner phoned an old and close friend with whom he had gone to high school and college. The friend, Bryce Tierney, was up late watching TV, but he didn’t answer the call. When he later checked his voice mail, he heard a simple message from Loughner: “Hey man, it’s Jared. Me and you had good times. Peace out. Later.”
Read the rest right here.
“Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) said on Fox News Sunday today that the mass shootings in Arizona yesterday are “unrelated” to Arizona’s gun laws: “The weapons don’t kill people, it’s the individual that kills people.”
“Paul condemned the shootings, which included Rep. Gabrielle Giffords among its victims. She remains in critical condition after being shot in the head.
“Paul said that though Arizona is only one of three states that allows people to carry concealed weapons without a permit, “I don’t think that that plays into this at all. Really, I think they’re unrelated.” Here.
Guns don’t kill people. Guns don’t conceal themselves. Also, permissive gun laws don’t kill people. Neither does violent rhetoric with Gabrielle Gifford in the cross hairs kill people. Where have we heard this before?
Bishop Williamson’s weekly blog addresses Pope Benedict’s recent announcement–the subject of an earlier thread initiated by Paul Moses– that he wishes to revive “the spirit of Assisi.” It may be recalled that the 1986 meeting of leaders of religions in that city was a last straw for Archbishop Lefebvre, who soon after consecrated four bishops and so incurred excommuication. Here are the beginning and closing paragraphs of Bishop Williamson’s remarks:
Some people are still afraid that Archbishop Lefebvre’s Society of St Pius X is on the way to a bad agreement with Benedict XVI’s Rome, but by the Pope’s Assisi-ism amongst other things, one might say that Benedict XVI himself is doing his best to prevent any such occurrence.
Six days ago he argued in theory that the world’s “great religions” can constitute “an important factor of the peace and unity of mankind”. Five days ago he announced in practice that in October of this year he will go “as a pilgrim” to Assisi to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Prayer Meeting of World Religions held there by Pope John-Paul II in 1986. But the theory of all “great world religions” contributing to world peace was absolutely rejected by Archbishop Lefebvre, and the practice of the 1986 Prayer Meeting in Assisi he condemned as a flagrant violation of the First Commandment, which, coming from the Vicar of Christ, constituted a scandal unheard of in all the history of the Church. Only the fear of too much repetition being counter-productive might have stopped him from castigating this latest piece of Assisi-ism.
Therefore if by their past and future Assisi events, Popes John-Paul II and Benedict XVI have encouraged souls to think that Catholicism is not the one and only way to a happy eternity, but merely one amongst many other promoters (even if it is the best) of mankind’s “peace and unity” in this life, it follows that both Popes have facilitated the dreadful damnation of countless souls in the next life. Rather than have any part in such a betrayal, Archbishop Lefebvre preferred to be scorned, rejected, despised, marginalized, silenced, “excommunicated”, you name it.
There is a price to be paid for holding to the Truth. How many Catholics are ready to pay it
Here now are the remarks of Bishop Fellay, who also is not happy about the Pope’s announcement: http://www.sspx.org/
No, I’m not kidding. It’s a big hit among the elementary school set. I only wish I’d thought of it. . . I’d be a lot closer to a beach house someplace warm.
But what does it say about our capitalist system that it produces iPhones (marvelous models of technological innovation) and pillow pets, which fall into the category of singing fish, pet rocks, and chia pets? And come to think of it, why are all these things “pets,” anyway?
In Friday’s Times (1/7/10) : “Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York joined other local religious leaders on Thursday in calling for a new effort to reduce the number of abortions in the city. The annual figure has averaged 90,000 in recent years, or about 40 percent of all pregnancies, twice the national rate….
“But while holding to the conviction that abortion is morally wrong, Archbishop Dolan and the others said they were adopting a more pragmatic goal for New York than abolishing abortion: “Let’s see to it that abortion is rare,” he said. Read it here